Recently a number of inspired people have discovered that churches are full of flaws. Upon reaching this earth-shattering, ground-breaking, paradigm-destroying discovery, they gathered together in the bowels of the internet, presumably for peer review, to share this miraculous discovery with their similarly enlightened brethren. They were shocked to learn that other brave souls had also tested this hypothesis and likewise found that every single church in the United States of America, and probably Canada, contained elements that were, to borrow from their secular fellow travelers, problematic. They have sent emissaries to churches in Europe, Australia, and other civilized lands with luxury hotels, air conditioning, and a populace that speaks English, to find out if these distant lands were also afflicted with the same problems. Reports have not been received from these adventurous souls doing their anthropological and sociological field work. The odds are astoundingly high that they will find foreign churches to be just as problematic as domestic churches, although we should wait for Nate Silver to finish building his latest algorithm before we will know for certain. Stay tuned for future updates.
It should come as no surprise to any student of church history or history that the church is a flawed institution. However, one needn’t be a student of history to know this, one must merely read the Bible. One of the most central points of the Bible is the fallen nature of man and the fallen nature of this world. It is greatly emphasized. Fallen people create fallen institutions. The church is an institution made of up flawed and fallen people, and thus will never be perfect. The perfect church does not exist. The perfect church has never existed. The only perfect church is the one that exists in heaven. Since the perfect church does not exist, stop looking for it. You will only launch yourself into a fruitless cycle of endless church shopping, list-making, list-checking, and petty whining. The shorter version: shut up and go to church. There are 350,000 churches in the United States. Surely one of them might be a fit for your very unique and very special theological, spiritual, and emotional needs.
Why go to church? Because we are commanded to go to church. Because Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, James, and all the rest went to church. Because a significant amount of the New Testament is about the business and practice of church—who should lead a church, who should serve in a church, who should teach, etc. Because the church is the means by which Christ will save the lost, heal the sick, free captives, and serve the poor. As a pastor once put it, the church is God’s plan A, and there is no plan B. And finally, because 2000 years of history and tradition are a more reliable indicator of truth than your feelings.
Christianity is a covenantal and communal faith. It is meant to be experienced in community. We cannot grow into the fullness of what God has intended us to be without discipleship and accountability. We are called to go out into the world and make disciples. Before we can do that, we must become disciples ourselves. That might sound like a humbling experience to some of you. Good. It’s supposed to. Liturgy, worship, sacraments, scripture, teaching, preaching, bible study, community are some of the greatest sources of truth, beauty, and joy. Do not starve yourself of those things because of your pride, convenience, or feelings.
If you do not go to a church, find a church nearby and start attending. If you do not know of a good church in your area, the editorial board of this website will be happy to provide recommendations. If you don’t like the church you’re currently attending, you could find another one and go there, or you could get involved and change things. The only way you can ensure that a church remains terrible is to do nothing. Except complaining about it on the internets. Hashtag spiritual activism is for losers. Men take the hard path. Men take action. Men fix things. Go out into your communities and find churches.